So called “corrective rape” has been endemic in South African townships for many years.
The trial of two men accused of raping a lesbian, to supposedly “correct” her sexual orientation commenced in the South African city of Port Elizabeth, Wednesday.
The Port Elizabeth High Court heard testimony from a witness who was with the men at the time, Thabizolo Nodada. He described how four men – Sonwabo Ngcete (20), Khuselo Manta (22), Siyamthanda Ndiza (21) and Siyabonga Mahlangu (21) – allegedly attacked the unnamed woman in the early hours of the morning on 29 January 2012.
The attack on the woman appears to be an incident of so-called “corrective rape”, in which someone perceived to be gay is raped to “teach” them to behave or present themselves according to sexual and gender norms.The attacks, usually in South Africa’s townships, often include the torture, mutilation or murder of the victim.
Earlier this month, President Jacob Zuma condemned violent crimes against members of the LGBTI community. “These attacks are despicable and they must be stopped,” he said at the 103rd anniversary of the ANC in Cape Town.
In April last year, the South African government launched Africa’s first state-led campaign to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTI people, including a rapid response team targeting hate crime incidents. Its success remains to be seen.
During the Apartheid era, South Africans convicted of rape were subject to the death penalty. In most such rape cases post Apartheid, convicted rapists receive 14 to 30 years. The incidence of rape against women in South Africa is one of the highest in the world.
Picture: Melanie Nathan and Ndumie Funda delivering 250,000 out of 1million obtained signatures against corrective rape, obtained in 2011, to South African Parliament.